"We have planned and booked a three-week holiday to Greece (Athens, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Paxos and Naxos) in September. Articles and information about the parlous condition of the Greek economy have us unsettled. Should we go or perhaps re-think our destination? Do you have any indicators of how the crisis could or will affect tourists? Will food and beverages be cheaper or dearer and will cafes and tavernas be struggling to stay open? I have made some inquiries of our Greek travel agents but they are understandably positive and hope not to discourage anyone from travelling to their homeland."
- D. Carter, Lane Cove.
While Greece might be a little more rambunctious than usual, there's nothing too novel about the situation and no real reason to change your holiday plans at this stage. "Crisis" is a Greek word, after all. The condition is virtually part of the Greek DNA. Your movements may be affected by strikes, although strikes are not new to Greece, either.
The Greeks were early adopters of the wheel, since it allowed donkey-cart drivers to strike en masse. Tourists have not been the target of Greek protests, although they could be caught up in ongoing demonstrations and you should exercise caution in Athens.
Many Europeans - who make up 90 per cent of the visitors to Greece - are heading elsewhere, intimidated by reports of civil unrest. Hotels in Greece are reporting occupancy rates well below normal, so there are some bargains around. It's not likely numbers will fall so far that taverna owners, hoteliers and tour operators will shut up shop.
As part of its austerity measures, the Greek government has increased sales tax by 2 per cent, which makes your holiday more expensive. On the other side of the equation, the collapse of the euro means your dollar will take you further. Since you're travelling with a specialist Greek travel agent, you can be reassured by their counsel. If things go wrong, they are obliged to help get your travel plans back on track. Consult the travel advice section of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office website (fco.gov.uk) for updates.
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